St. Maximilian Kolbe's Selfless Sacrifice

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The Selfless Saint 16670. That was the only identification given to one of the greatest Catholic saints of the 20th century. St. Maximilian Kolbe offered his life for a fellow innocent man, yet was only known by the number 16670 ("The Martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe" 1.) But for millions of Catholics, St. Maximilian Kolbe is known for his selfless sacrifice of his life and how it is a perfect example of how one must be willing to follow Christ’s model of unconditional love, even to death. St. Maximilian was born Raymond Kolbe in Poland on January 8, 1894. From childhood, Raymond knew he was destined for a life dedicated to serving God. One night as a child, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. In his dream, She offered him two crowns, a…show more content…
Kolbe's home country of Poland in 1939. He was arrested, but only detained for a short period of time. Two years later in 1941, the Nazis grew tired of St. Maximilian's public displays against them, and sentenced him to Auschwitz, despite his poor health. Although he was forced to preform long hours of intense labor, Fr. Kolbe never complained, and instead, he encouraged his fellow prisoners to stay hopeful as he administered to their spiritual needs. In July of 1941, a prisoner escaped from Fr. Kolbe's barrack. As punishment, the Nazis randomly selected ten men to die from the barrack. One of the men selected was Francis Gajowinczewk, a father and husband. Desperate, he called out to the guards, pleading for his life ("The Martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe"). His pleading was answered, but not by the Nazi guards. Instead, a thin, glasses clad man stepped forward, asking permission to take his place. When the startled Nazis asked who he was, St. Maximilian simply replied, “I am a Catholic priest. I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children” ("The Martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe." 2). After some deliberation, Fr. Kolbe’s offer was granted, and he along with nine other men were thrown into a cell of starvation for two weeks. Ever a faithful man of God, Fr. Kolbe led his fellow prisoners in prayer and worship. At the end of the two weeks, only he and three others remained (Pennock 64). On August 14, 1941, the feast of the

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